I just finished a trip to Washington D.C. where I participated in the National Prayer Breakfast. It was cold–I’m a SoCal guy–but rich with…
- New contacts
- Great learning
- Potential partnerships
- Encounters with national influencers
- Fun, food, friends!
Here are some great lessons I learned that you might be able to leverage and make more of your next trip:
- Plan ahead, but don’t pack full. Leave some space for the who knows what? If you plan a couple meetings and events each day you’ll find that you’ll make new contacts that need to be followed up. You’ll also find that you’ll learn something that needs more consideration and can’t be lost in the midst of fire-hose inputs.
- Leave your business cards at home. I accidently forgot cards, and I’m glad I did. There were people I wanted to follow up with, but they either had cards, or I just texted them my info. Otherwise, it provided me an honest out when asked by people I didn’t feel the need to correspond with. Bonus: you don’t come across like the slick pushy person pedaling business cards.
- Uber. Uber is the way to go. It’s far more convenient than renting a car and trying to park in densely populated cities. As far as cost, it’s a wash when you consider needing to pay for parking at hotels, etc.
- Stay near, not at. If your event is at a hotel, don’t stay there. Stay at the next closest hotel. You can hang at the event hotel all day and night, but you get a second experience if you stay somewhere else. You might stumble on a different event, like a Technology Expo that I stumbled on. Plus, you might want a break from the hand-shaking and interruptions in the gym that can be annoying.
- Host or hitch meals. Good things happen over food. Don’t eat alone. Host a dinner somewhere nice and invite new friends. Or, tag around with interesting people and go to dinner with them. Deals happen at dinners.
- Exercise. Build margin into your schedule, and use some of that margin to work-out. It’s not only good for the body, it’s great for the mind. You’ll think about new ideas and new applications for ideas as your mind slips into neutral on the elliptical.
- Facetime the family. I’d always prefer to travel with my wife, but she’s eight months pregnant and elected to sit this one out. I underestimate how much I miss my family. Facetime helps.
- Ship and travel light. Travel as light as you can. I carried a small duffel and my computer bag—one in each hand—for a four night trip. I needed products (books) for my engagements, but I had them sent ahead of me to the hotel. I don’t care if the suitcase has wheels, I’m not toting bricks—books.
- Connect to a Connector. I’m not a pushy person who forces my way into situations. But I am a connector who relies on connector friends for meaningful introductions. A Connector is someone who knows more people than the average person. Ask yourself, who do I know that is well-connected and has a good reputation? Then do whatever you can to make that person’s life great so they want you around. Friend’s-friend introductions are the best way to meet the right people. But that starts with you being a friend.
- Pray and pay attention. I prayed for divine encounters and I think I had several–unexpected connections with people that were a bigger deal than I could have planned. There were people I didn’t know would be there. Meetings I didn’t know existed. And that’s always the case. So, pray for God’s favor and expect the unexpected.
Plan your next trip with purpose and you might be pleasantly surprised.